Judges who receive public sanctions from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct usually have a tough time getting re-elected in Texas. Yet Dallas County primary voters yesterday re-elected two Democratic trial judges who were previously disciplined for their bad behavior on the bench.
Etta Mullin, a former judge who was disciplined for threatening to handcuff an eight-month pregnant prosecutor to her chair so she would remain in the courtroom for trial, was elected to Dallas County Criminal Court at Law No. 10. Mullin, with 52 percent of the vote, defeated Roberto Canas, a veteran judge whose domestic violence court was recognized as a model by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mullin previously served as judge of Dallas County Criminal Court at Law No. 5 but was defeated while running for re-election in 2014 after she received national media attention for her “alleged inefficient courtroom management skills and alleged discourteous, impatient and undignified treatment of certain attorneys.” That contributed to her 2015 public admonition from the commission—a discipline that was raised to a public reprimand after Mullin appealed to a special review court.
Voters also decided to re-elect Jeanine Howard as judge of Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 6. Howard received a public warning from the commission in 2015 after she said a 14-year-old sexual assault victim “was not the victim she claimed to be,” and sentenced her attacker to probation.
Howard defeated Alison Grinter, a Dallas defense attorney who challenged the incumbent because of her disciplinary case, with 57 percent of the vote. Mullin and Howard are virtually assured to win the Nov. 6 general election in solid blue Dallas County as they face no Republican opponents.
However, Dallas voters were spared the chance to evaluate whether 203rd District Judge Teresa Hawthorne should be re-elected after she was publicly reprimanded by the commission last year for shaming jurors and using her position to improperly interject herself into a relative’s criminal case.
Hawthorne was kicked off the ballot in January by the Democratic Party because of an error in her campaign paperwork. In paperwork indicating whether she was running as a Democrat or a Republican, Hawthorne instead wrote the date of the election.
Hawthorne’s removal allowed former Dallas prosecutor Raquel “Rocky” Jones to run unopposed for Hawthorne’s bench. Jones also faces no Republican opponent in the November general election.